On a party-line vote of 16-14, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-HHS-ED) appropriations bill on Thursday, following on the heels of House appropriators who passed their own version of the bill out of committee on Wednesday. Like in the House, the Senate bill also proposes level funding for the Perkins Basic State Grant at $1.118 billion, with a slight cut in Perkins National Programs ($3 million in the Senate compared to $3.6 million in the House version). The committee chose to maintain state grant funding for CTE despite tight FY 2016 budget caps, and a $1.7 billion cut in education funding overall in their bill.
Today, President Barack Obama signed an executive order recognizing U.S. Presidential Scholars in Career and Technical Education (CTE). The announcement came in response to a bipartisan letter from U.S. Senators Tim Kaine, Rob Portman and Tammy Baldwin urging the White House to expand the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program to commend the efforts of students who have chosen CTE pathways. Kaine, Portman and Baldwin, co-chairs of the Senate Career and Technical Education Caucus, are strong supporters of expanding CTE programs and recognizing the important role CTE has played in preparing students for a 21st century workforce.
“It’s important we send the message that CTE programs play a pivotal role in preparing students for the workforce and offer them a pathway to success,” said Kaine. “During my term as Governor, I recognized the potential of CTE students by developing nine Governor’s Career and Technical Academies in Virginia. I applaud the President for celebrating achievements in CTE at the national level as part of the Presidential Scholars Program and I look forward to the contributions these students will make to our nation’s economy.”
“Career and Technical Education is a critical component to connecting students with open jobs,” said Portman. “In today’s competitive and dynamic job market, far too many Americans are finding that they lack the skills they need to get a good paying job, and I applaud the President for expanding the Presidential Scholars Program to recognize the success of CTE programs around the country.”
“Career and technical education provides promise for the unemployed or underemployed looking to improve their skills in order to obtain high-wage and high-skill jobs,” said Baldwin. “Our business communities have been clear on the need for a highly-trained workforce for in-demand fields and CTE provides the knowledge and skills that drive our Made in Wisconsin economy. I applaud President Obama for recognizing the critical link between helping students earn the necessary industry credentials and success in competitive workplace environments.”
The current U.S. Presidential Scholars program, which was created by President Lyndon B. Johnson by Executive Order in 1964, honors graduating high school seniors for academic excellence, artistic accomplishments, and civic contributions. Today’s executive order will expand the program to annually honor up to 20 high school students who have demonstrated outstanding scholarship and accomplishment in career and technical education fields. The first group of U.S. Presidential Scholars in CTE will be nominated in spring 2016.
US. Senator’s Kaine, Portman, and Baldwin have introduced S. 478, the Career Ready Act of 2015.
The Career Ready Act would:
- Encourage states to emphasize the importance of career readiness by reporting on the opportunities they offer, such as work-based learning and postsecondary credentials, to help ensure students can compete for good paying jobs
- Help schools align career exploration course offerings and counseling to the workforce needs of the local community and coordinate with the requirements of the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act
- Allow states to utilize multiple indicators of career readiness when they report data to the federal government, such as attainment of recognized postsecondary credentials or academic and technical skills including industry-recognized certificates, certifications, licenses, and postsecondary degrees
- Strengthen the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling grant program in current law by
- Placing an emphasis on career guidance
- Providing professional development to school counselors by training them to use labor market information that educates students on postsecondary opportunities.
- Building partnerships with community groups such as local workforce investment boards, businesses, industries, and regional economic development agencies
The House Congressional Caucus Cochaired by Rep. GT Thompson and Rep. Langevin hold ongoing briefings. Below is a listing
- Mitchell Coppes, Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Manager, Association for Career and Technical Education
- Kim Green: Executive Director, National Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education Consortium
- Eric Gearhart, Special Projects Consultant, SkillsUSA
The House Education and Workforce held two field hearings in Nevada and Arizona on March 18th and 20th, respectively.
On Tuesday, March 18 at 2:00 p.m., Chairman Kline will join Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV) in Nevada’s 3rd District for a field hearing entitled, “Reviving our Economy: How Career and Technical Education Can Strengthen the Workforce.” The hearing will take place at Southwest Career and Technical Academy, Coyote Ballroom, located at 7050 West Shelbourne Avenue in Las Vegas, Nevada.
On Thursday, March 20 at 9:00 a.m., Chairman Kline will join Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) in Arizona’s 5th District for a field hearing entitled, “Reviving our Economy: Supporting a 21st Century Workforce.” The hearing will take place at Arizona State University Polytechnic Campus, Student Union-Cooley Ballroom B, located at 7001 East Williams Field Road in Mesa, Arizona.
Link to further information about both hearings can be found here.
On January 29, 2014, Senators Kaine (D-VA) and Portman (R-OH) announced the formation of a Senate Caucus on Career and Technical Education.
The bipartisan Caucus “will focus on improving and strengthening access to career and technical education to ensure that students of all ages are prepared with the skills they need for the jobs of the 21st century.”
Senator Kaine’s press release can be found here
Senator Portman’s press release can be found here
The Senate Caucus extends the House Bipartisan CTE caucus which is chaired by Representatives Langevin (D-RI) and G.T. Thompson (R-PA). Information on the House caucus can be found on Rep. Langevin and Rep. Thompson’s websites.
On November 19, 2013, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a public hearing titled “Preparing Today’s Students for Tomorrow’s Jobs: Improving the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.” In the hearing announcement, the Committee stated that the hearing would “provide members an opportunity to discuss proposals to strengthen CTE programs and help students gain the valuable credits and certifications needed to compete for in-demand jobs.”
The witnesses and their testimony included:
Video of the hearing is available here.
More can be found on the Committee website here.